Top 100 Kevin Macdonald Quotes

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“I can’t claim my grandfather’s work has influenced mine directly, but his life certainly inspired me to follow this path.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“You can relate to someone with a flaw.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“Everyone’s got to make one submarine drama in their life.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I used the same designer and costume designer on ‘The Eagle’ and ‘The Last King of Scotland.’”

― Kevin Macdonald

“You can go to places in Africa and Asia and find Marley graffiti. In the slums of Nairobi, you see his lyrics painted on walls, and you realise he has this almost religious significance to the underclass of the world. He’s a guy born in a hut with no bed, and now he’s probably the most listened-to artist in the world. It’s fascinating.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I like to take a little of what I learned in fiction and apply it to documentary and vice versa.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“If you go to pretty much everywhere in the developing world, you will find Bob Marley murals, and you’ll find people playing his music.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“We’re all fascinated by the way other people live their lives, how they cope with hardship and triumph, what they put in their home movies and family albums.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“The first documentary I saw that tried to show the actual experience of being a soldier in combat was ‘The Anderson Platoon,’ by French director Pierre Schoendoerffer, which won the Oscar for best documentary in 1967.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“Although ‘The Anderson Platoon’ was what we would now call an ’embedded film’ – with all the ambiguities that term implies – somehow Schoendoerffer got away with showing things as they really were from a grunt’s perspective.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“Despite the limitations of the bulky 16mm camera and 10-minute film magazines, ‘The Anderson Platoon’ feels as spontaneous and fresh as any films that have come out of the Afghan or Iraq wars.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“In war films, even more than in other kinds of documentary, we’ve come to think that shaky, poor-quality footage is somehow more authentic than something classically ‘well shot.’”

― Kevin Macdonald

“There were many times during the filming of ‘Touching the Void’ when I wondered why I had ever thought I wanted to make this film.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“In film, I believe things should either be documentary or drama.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“If there is a tendency in modern television I hate, it is the unstoppable march of the dramatic reconstruction to tell the stories of anything from an ancient Egyptian battle to the early life of Paul Gascoigne.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“The great thing about making a film on a submarine is that it’s kind of like making a play. You’ve got this limited environment.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I find it really difficult when you make a movie where it is set in Russia and everyone speaks in English. It drives me crazy.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“It feels like we’re all so familiar now with the traditional three-act structure that, actually, stories that are more complex, more naughty, that allow for disagreement and discussion, are more interesting to us.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“People who die in an untimely way who are artists, somehow that validates their art, we feel. Why culturally we feel that, I don’t know.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“No man, no woman is without their flaws.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“What got me into making movies was that I wanted to be a journalist.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I love submarine movies.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I love Humphrey Jennings. People ask me who my favorite documentary maker is, and he’s certainly in the top three.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“A publisher friend of mine suggested that I write a book about my grandfather, who had just died. I had nothing else to fill my empty days with, so I started work on this book. While researching it – watching lots of movies, talking to moviemakers – I became interested in movies and started making documentaries.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“The interesting thing to me is that somehow the future of movies will become a more social thing… I think that people will see them communally and will be talking about them as they’re watching them, in a way, and immediately after watching them, and they’ll all become the conversation. I think that’s pretty interesting.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“’State of Play’ is a romantic story at its heart.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“Sometimes people give away more by not saying something.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“If you can understand, you can feel compassion.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“In my early career as a documentarian, I suppose I was trying to make films which – where it was all about making a big cinematic statement, and I think with ‘Marley,’ I slightly changed my direction and adopted a more mellow approach.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I’m not doing any more music films!”

― Kevin Macdonald

“If you want to do ‘Sword & Sandals’ movies, people think that means it equals ‘epic.’”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I was a teenager in the ’80s, and I was always a bit dismissive of Houston, as I think a lot of people who considered themselves ‘cool music fans’ were. She was poppy, bubble gum, making music not considered very cool. But you can’t help but dance to some of those songs or feel emotionally affected by ‘I Will Always Love You.’”

― Kevin Macdonald

“Most people in Uganda have something good to say about Amin – ‘He was funny; he gave us pride to be African.’”

― Kevin Macdonald

“Coming from documentaries, my biggest challenge was to understand actors’ psychologies. American actors take it all very seriously; British actors don’t enter into all this methody way of doing things.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“You can get good performances in quite sizable roles from people who have never been in front of a camera, people who maybe have never been in front of a movie theater.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“In some ways, making documentaries is like being a journalist. You interview people and then use the bits you want to use as opposed to the bits they want you to use.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I’ve fallen out very badly with some of the subjects I’ve interviewed, because they see their lives a certain way; to step into a cinema and see your life depicted in another way can come as a terrible shock.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“The only obligation you have as a film-maker is to tell your version of the truth and to use your film to illuminate reality. Whatever that means.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“The relationship between director and subject can become very intense. It’s a bit like therapy, with lots of transferences going on. It’s easy to feel guilty.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“It’s obviously presumptuous in some ways to talk about somebody’s sexuality who’s not here to describe themselves.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“When you’re trying to make a film, you’re trying to find a way to love your subject, and you want your audience to love your subject.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“As a filmmaker, I’m interminably curious and nosy, but certain times you meet people and think, ‘I don’t want to push you too hard because I can see this is painful for you.’”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I’ve done a few celebrity-related things, and I think on the first one – about Mick Jagger – I got stung and was not able to make the film I wanted to make.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“For everybody in the world, the answers to the mysteries in your life usually lie in your childhood, your upbringing, and your parents.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“The tradition has always been that in Roman films, the Romans are always British, and it’s usually posh British: Laurence Olivier and his ilk. My take on all this was that it’s a metaphor for empire and the end of empire.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“People listen to The Beatles, but while they were muscially influential, they weren’t culturally influential in quite the same way. You can go into the back of beyond in a little Indian village, and they will listen to Bob Marley. But they’re not going to be listening to The Beatles or The Rolling Stones.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“The thing with newspapers is that they are a filter. We’re relying on the editors of that paper to be a filter and to tell you that this is worth reading about, this is quality, and this is quite reliable.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“When you’re an outsider and going into a culture like America, it’s easier to stay away from any cliches because you’re not really aware of what they are.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“Young people read their news online; they expect to get their news for free.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“The Internet has meant that advertising has migrated; there are hardly any classifieds in newspapers any more because they’re all online. If people have a car to sell, for example, they sell it online; they don’t go to the newspaper.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“It is hard to find the soul of Mick Jagger. It is very hidden. I think his true personality has receded so far behind the facade that he can no longer find the real person himself.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“Documentary makers use other people’s lives as their raw material, and that is morally indefensible.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I did not want to depict Al Gashey as evil. I wanted him to come across as someone who did what he did for reasons that were compelling. Whether or not we agree with him is a different matter.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I think my brother always wanted to be a film producer.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I went through a period of not watching fiction.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“The submarine genre is a category with all its own rules. But shooting on water is famously tough.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I don’t think life gets any better than sitting in the sun while a legend of French cinema tells you stories about making ‘Belle de Jour’ and other wonderful films, and eating great food.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I suppose that the Western has always been a kind of mold to which you could pour the concerns of the day, but have them seen in the simple terms of the Western, of one alley or whatever.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I think the parallels of a giant power with overwhelming military superiority and might, with America and Rome, it seems obvious to me.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“It’s so nice to be totally artistically free.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“It’s nice to stretch in different directions and use different muscles. You can get swallowed into Hollywood, where it’s all about bums on seats and how commercial a film is.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“Every film that is made about the past is always a reflection of the present.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I remember going to the university film club to see ‘The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp’ one night and being bowled over. It was one of the most beautiful films I’d ever seen. And it felt so personal.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“People think that the Italians invented neorealism, but actually, Humphrey Jennings did. He was revolutionary in using non-professional actors in his films, and he got extraordinary performances out of them.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“When I was growing up on Loch Lomondside, one of the first albums I ever bought was Marley’s ‘Uprising.’ I guess that would have been 1980 – just before he died.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I think there’s always been interest in Bob Marley.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“Elvis Presley’s estate is making 30 million a year, and they say that Marley shouldn’t be, but he is from a much poorer part of the world, and a lot more people need the money.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I’m a cynical person who’s normally attracted to the dark side of things.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“It’s interesting to me that the Arab Spring started in Tunisia, and in the marches, people were singing ‘Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights.’”

― Kevin Macdonald

“For me, the aim of making any film like this, any film about an artist, would be to send you back to the art.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“We should not confuse having a Flip camera with making a documentary.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I think we’re all greedy. Who do you know who says, ‘I have enough! I don’t need any more!’? It’s part of human nature.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I was fascinated by making a submarine movie, inspired by the Kursk disaster. This idea of being trapped down at the bottom of the sea seemed so terrifying. I was very interested in making a sub film which wasn’t a military film. You think, Well, why are they there, then, if they’re not in the military? Oh, well, they must be looking for treasure.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“When we made ‘Life in a Day,’ we asked people around the globe to record their lives on a single ordinary day. When we were cutting that film, we talked about what it might be like if we chose a day that already had significance to people. The result is ‘Christmas in a Day.’”

― Kevin Macdonald

“The things that are hardest to shoot are the things where you want people just to feel very natural, and you want to do love scenes, and you want to do just kids hanging out and trying to get them to relax.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I recommend to any of you, that’s always a good way to make a film: use the interesting bits.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“’Uprising’ was one of the first three or four albums I ever bought in 1980 when I was 13, and that had a strong impact on me.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“The amazing thing about Bob Marley is that there is no moving footage of him at all for the first ten or eleven years of his career. From 1962 to 1973, there’s nothing, not a single frame.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“It’s always nice to have the same people that you are familiar with and shorthand with, obviously, to be around you.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I think everything that I’ve done, I’ve been involved with for longer. Either you develop it from scratch, or you take something, and you develop it, and you work on the script, but I’m not sure how good I’d be at just sort of taking a piece of material and being a director for hire like that.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“John Lennon made wonderful music, which people listen to as music. Nobody around the world is living their life according to the precepts of John Lennon.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I started as a documentary maker, and they’re my first love.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“There’s something about the lack of certainty with a documentary, which is exhausting if you do three in a row. It’s nerve-wracking.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“With fiction, I’ve grown to really love the challenge of lying, the challenge of telling a good tale that isn’t truthful, and working with performers is endlessly fascinating. You know, learning what a good performance is, how to get a good performance, how much or how little you need to create emotion or to create character.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“When you look at almost every submarine movie, to some degree or another, there’s this ‘Moby Dick’ element, this Ahab element to them.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I was born at Rotten Row in Glasgow and brought up in Loch Lomond near a small place called Gartocharn. And it’s a bit like anyone: where you’re brought up, you have an irresistible attraction to that place; it defines who you are.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I’m not particularly ethnically Scottish; I have one grandfather who is Scottish, although he’s called Macdonald, and you don’t get a lot more Scottish than that. The Scottish part of my family are from Skye, and I’ve always been very aware of that – always been very attracted to Scottish subject matter, I guess.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I don’t think of myself particularly as a Scottish director, but you are what you are because the first ten years of your life, and where you spend them, brand you. In that sense, I’ll always be a Scottish director.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“Like a lot of expatriate Scots, when you want to be called Scottish, it’s useful. I see myself as being without nationality, as a European: my region is Scotland; my nationality is European – isn’t that a very Alex Salmond thing to say?”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I always loved digging away at the story, trying to find out things that people don’t want you to find out and piecing it all together. I love the treasure hunt aspect of it, the thrill of the chase.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I suppose making documentaries is like doing journalism on film.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“My grandfather died before I started making films, but I definitely learnt this from him: believe in your own judgment and stick to your guns – 99% of the time, you’ll be glad you did.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“If there’s a principle really worth sticking up for, I’ll go the whole way.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I went to see ‘Francis Ha,’ which I could certainly relate to. She ends up wandering the streets of Paris all alone – something I’ve ended up doing a number of times in capital cities around Europe.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“Put someone on a horse looking cold and wet, and they don’t have to act. They just are cold and wet.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“For me, what works well about ‘Life in a Day’ is that it’s emotionally affecting without being manipulative. It really does make you think about the connectivity of the world, the similarities and differences. It shows the experiences we all go through: birth, childhood, falling in love, having kids, getting ill, dying.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“When you see how people in the developing world react and how they use a camera, you realise how narcissistic we are and how the filming of ourselves and thinking that we’re interesting enough to care about is odd.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I don’t read many young adult books.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“I suppose that I’m easily bored.”

― Kevin Macdonald

“With ‘Black Sea,’ I long had an idea that I wanted to do a film about people stuck on the bottom of the ocean. I thought that was a terrifying scenario.”

― Kevin Macdonald
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